The film opens with an enigmatic introduction; I noticed the music, scored by Bradford Cox of Deerhunter and Atlas Sound, right away. You then are quickly transported into the soft and easy world of the movie: a mix of archival footage and soft voiceover make for a lyrical, hypnotic, and beautiful feel to the story of a demographic group that many consider to be the very opposite of soft and easy.
The movie moves chronologically, acting as a historical profile through the lens of the teens in each generation, starting in the Industrial Revolution, a period when “teenage” literally did not exist. Little vignettes telling the stories of individual teens bring the viewer deeper into the feelings and situations of teens of each era, and each transition is punctuated with a quote that adds just enough cathartic impact, really incorporating resonance into the spectrum of emotion from the ride of the previous story events, including the flapper scene of the 1920s to WWII.
Basically, the movie is like one of those educational films you watch in school, profiling a subject in a straightforward manner, but not bad or particularly dry; rather, it is soft, romantic, and pristinely interesting. It's not what I expected at all. It simply and unpretentiously shows what it means to be a teen in each of the presented eras, from the out-of-work young adults of the Great Depression, to the Hitler youth of the '40s who weren’t allowed to dress in the fashions or listen to the music of the American swing fad. It ruminates in the rosy nostalgia of the birth of teen angst and titillates the beginning of our current reality, suspending us in the sweet innocence of youthful rebellion. I'll leave you with a line from the movie: "Once you glimpse the world of tomorrow, you can never go back."